Labyrinth

The Awesome Benefits of Kindness

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Kindness is making a comeback - in popularity - though I believe there are always people in this world who regularly and quietly do kind acts with no intention for reward.

At Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, we champion in kindness, which contributes so easily to inner (and often outer) peace.

That’s why we are celebrating World Kindness Day, November 13.

“World Kindness Day is celebrated annually on 13th November. On this day, participants attempt to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organisations.” Awarenessday.com.

We never know when a kind comment, kind gesture, smile, or small deed makes a macroscopic difference in a person’s day. Plus it feels good.

So this week, we are inviting you (and ourselves) to start the practice of doing one small “random act of kindness” daily - and discover the magic that can happen!

Here are suggested World Kindness Day activities (as reported on their website):

World Kindness Day Activities

1. Commit at least three random acts of kindness today
Give compliments. Smile at strangers. Hold a door open. Give up your seat on a crowded train. Do at least three random acts and see what magic follows!

2. Give extra and (extra-long) hugs today
Kindness and connection go hand-in-hand. Take a few extra minutes to hug your loved ones and friends today. They'll wonder what got into you, but after the first 10 seconds of they hug, we promise they're going to melt.

3. Write a love poem to yourself and read it out loud
We're serious about you being kind to yourself, today, too. Write a short (or long) poem highlighting the things you appreciate about yourself and your life. Read it out loud to yourself, in front of a mirror. You may just fall in love!

4. Share kindness on your social media
#WorldKindnessDay is real. Share quotes and inspiring pictures on your feed on Nov. 13 and let the internet help spread some love.

5. Get creative - make up your own!


Join us November 13 for: The Awesome Benefits of Kindness Workshop, 7:30pm at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens.

Service in Action – FUNdraiser for Venezuela [with Photos]

By Gaby Grigorescu
Photos by Doren Sorell

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I am very happy to share with you about a beautiful activity that took place on Sunday, October 28 at 2:30 p.m., and that arose from an idea that Skyler Patton had through the Heartfelt Foundation to raise funds for Venezuela. So it was that Vanessa Zoghbi and I joined together with Skyler to make this event since we are both Venezuelan. The idea was to collect funds for Hogar Bambi, SenosAyuda, San Francisco de Asís Animal Shelter and San Juan de Dios Hospital, all Venezuelan non-profit organizations that suffer the consequences of a financial crisis where there is a shortage of food, medicines, personal hygiene products, among others.

The idea was to have a Venezuelan afternoon at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens along with the support and presence of Ros Cachitos, Mathy’s Shop, Helping Children in Venezuela, De Provincia, DJ Victor X, 3 For Rent, David Whitaker’s Pottery, Splash the Ink, Moccian, and Golden Studio. All are Venezuelan talents who wanted to join this beautiful cause.

We started the activity with a meditation in the labyrinth where we asked for peace for Venezuela, then our guests enjoyed live music by Venezuelan musicians, food, and desserts from my country, and we finished the event with the raffle of incredible prizes. The energy that was present was a mix of joy, solidarity, spontaneity, brotherhood, service, love, and peace. In particular, it was incredible to be able to see a group of people united by the same cause and know that we are all one.

I also want to thank the volunteers who supported us that afternoon with our activity. Without you, it would not have been possible to hold the event. Infinite thanks to Elizabeth Baralt, Galia Corie, Alexander Gonzalez, Omar Gutiérrez, Héctor Ojeda, Nélida Chávez, Lizet González, Ned O’Neill, David Jaramillo, Angela Parkes, Vanessa Zoghbi and Skyler Patton, you were our little angels that afternoon. I also want to thank Susan Valaskovic, Paul Kaye, Mark Lurie, Vincent Dupont, for the support they gave us to fundraise for Venezuela.

We set the goal of raising $2,500, but thanks to the generosity and kindness of the Venezuelan and MSIA community we managed to reach $7,721! Thanks to this, the organizations will receive more resources. Thank you again! I feel happy and blessed to have exceeded the goal thanks to the generosity of so many people.

Hopefully, we can organize more events like this where we can support those who are in need. It is nice to be able to serve and support other communities. Thanks to our beloved John Morton for his unconditional Love, and Light.

God bless us all and fill us with blessings!

Photos by Doren Sorell



Gaby Grigorescu
Photos by Doren Sorell

Pretzel Poses Not Required: Yoga Yourself into Peace

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

Perhaps the quote explains Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile. Maybe she adopted her creator’s philosophy and practiced yoga!

Fast forward in time from the Italian Renaissance to a smiling lady at an Italian Beaux Art villa in LA. Her name is Jennifer Herrera. Besides her degrees in law and spiritual psychology, she’s applied her smarts to brand building. (Think Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Sony Electronics.) “When I was in the prime of my first career and stressed out, I found yoga again,” says Jennifer. “It saved my life.”

A decade later she’s a yoga teacher. In fact, she’s teaching on Tuesday, August 21st at 7:30 pm in the backyard of the aforementioned Beaux Art Villa. (The historic mansion is headquarters to - PAL&G - Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens.)

To clarify, the PAL&G backyard boasts a 3-tiered meditation garden and a Chartres Cathedral inspired labyrinth. (Sometimes called a Moving Meditation.) By day, the labyrinth is carpeted with those contemplating life. On the evening of August 21st, yoga mats will crisscross the labyrinth.

Jennifer says, “Yoga at the labyrinth is a beautiful opportunity to say "YES" to the body, mind and spirit. We will be touching all of those dimensions during our experience. I would also add that all levels are welcome. If you were ever to begin yoga, there's no better place than the sacred ground of Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens.”

My interview with Jennifer about yoga and life follows.

 Q: What forms of yoga do you practice?

JH: I practice and teach a combination of hatha and vinyasa that is also heavily influenced by Iynengar. What this means is that I slowly build my practice from the ground up consciously awakening the body, holding in postures and linking breath to movement. I am not a power yoga teacher. I can enjoy those classes from time to time and I have found that my peace is in the slow build.

Q: What can you guarantee or almost guarantee students will walk away with after Yoga at the Labyrinth?

JH: All willing and open participants will absolutely walk away with an experiential reference of peace within themselves and their bodies.

Q: How often do you practice?

JH: I practice 3-5 times a week and sometimes that is a 20 minute evening restorative practice.

Q: What’s the greatest gift you’ve received from yoga?

Healing the relationship with my body. Through my practice of yoga, learning about and feeling into parts of my body I never had prior, I began to relate to my body as an apprentice. Instead of constantly evaluating it externally, I began to steep in the wonder of its miraculous nature. I am so grateful for this new context, awareness and healing.

Q: Advice for the inflexible or stiff jointed?

JH: Gentleness - with your body and with your mind. The physical practice of yoga is really a distraction to reduce the noise of the mind. Yoga is not about flexibility. That is a misnomer. Actually bodies that are very flexible or hyper-mobile can injure themselves if they don't know how to back off. I begin almost every day feeling a bit stiff and inflexible. Yoga has actually supported me in better listening to my body so I know how to gently wake it up and support blood circulation to the joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Whenever possible use props during your practice. A simple blanket or thick towel can make all the difference.

Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in practicing yoga? How do you or did you overcome that?

JH: Growing my patience and learning to quiet the mind. There are metaphorical opportunities arriving all throughout a yoga practice if we are open to them. For example, how we relate to ourselves and the world while on our mat is a reflection of how we relate to ourselves and the world off the mat. Allowing that to be okay rather than a space to judge ourselves is when the practice takes on a whole new level of growth and expansion. Although the practice of yoga can be and feel rather serious, it's so important not to take ourselves too seriously. When we can loosen up and allow for the space our practice deepens. When I have tried to force a posture that my body is rejecting but my mind is attached to "doing," I struggle and get uptight. When I heed my body's communication and back off, I soften and relax. These two paths of relating impact my entire practice and often what occurs after. Over time, I have learned to leave it all on my mat, to use the entire experience to let it all go. It's literally my physical therapy, spiritual practice and self-care all in one. I am never sorry I did yoga.

Q: Who’s been your biggest influence, inspiration in yoga?

JH: My teachers. The first one was a woman I began practicing with around 2008 in Manhattan. Her classes were like mini-workshops. I didn't know that at the time and she has been the single biggest influence on my practice and my teaching approach. She weaved in depth and breadth into every 75 minute class and I found the teacher in me by being her student. They say, “When the student is ready the teacher arrives.” I am so grateful.

Q: Besides, Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, where is the most exquisite place you’ve done yoga?

JH: In the lush forest of a small town in the south west part of France. Just me and nature. It was Heaven on earth.



Curious novice or consummate yogi, you are welcome to enjoy Yoga at the Labyrinth at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, November 6 on the heavenly grounds of PAL&G.

Visit http://www.peacelabyrinth.org/events/yitm110618. Wear comfy clothes. And remember your yoga mats! Blankets and large beach towels work, too.

Service in Action Fundraiser

Fundraiser organizers: Vanessa Zoghbi, Skyler Patton, Gaby Grigorescu

Fundraiser organizers: Vanessa Zoghbi, Skyler Patton, Gaby Grigorescu

Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens is partnering with the Heartfelt Foundation to aid causes in Venezuela that serve those desperately in need.

Why Venezuela?

If you've been following the news, you'll have heard of the hardships befallen Venezuelans. Food is scarce. Families wait hours in line or pick at rotten meat in order to eat. Hospitals and orphanages do not have medicines or basic supplies. Family pets are being abandoned because their owners cannot care for them and are starving in the streets.

Can we help and make an impact? Yes, we can!


Ways to Support: 

♥ Donate "In Kind Goods" & drop off at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G) by October 30th. (See a list of goods below.)

♥ Monetary donations can be made here (select HeartFelt Foundation).

In-Kind Donations We're Collecting:

(Drop off by October 30th at:
PAL&G, 3500 West Adams Bl., Los Angeles, CA 90018)

-Diapers
-Baby formula
-White crew socks (kids)
-Underwear for boys and girls (ages 4-12)
-Dog and cat food
-Dewormers for animals
-Non-perishable food items
-Vitamins (multivitamin, B complex and iron)
-Baby bottles

Who Are We Serving?

Proceeds from this event will go to: 

Bambi House
Provides holistic and nurturing care to more than 125 children and youth between 0 and 18 years of age who are not able to live with their families, separated from their family environment due to abuse, mistreatment or economic hardship.

 San Juan De Dios Hospital
Offers medical attention in integral health, especially to children of lower economic resources, manifesting the charisma of mercy and hospitality.

Senos Ayuda
Fights against breast cancer through activities of information and early detection; networking with groups dedicated to the same cause, as well as guidance and emotional support to patients and family members.

San Francisco De Asis Animal Shelter
A foundation that has been helping and protecting over 100 animals at risk for 30 years in Coro State Venezuela.


Questions?

You can contact Skyler Patton for questions: 323-328-1925 | serve@heartfelt.org.

Lights, Sound, Soul!

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What is Soul Transcendence? How do you become aware of your Soul? Recognizing Soul moments is a valuable key says Dr. Pauli Sanderson, counselor and acclaimed co-author of When Are You Coming Home?

Posture perfect, Dr. Sanderson scans the crowd gathered in the mansion at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G). Despite all her degrees, Dr. Sanderson looks approachable. (The twinkle in her eyes suggests a sense of humor.) “Soul moments,” she says, “are moments that come to us more or less bidden, when we feel something within us respond with recognition or joy or sudden and unexpected loving.”

So that serenading bird who perched outside my office on the Romeo and Juliet-ish balcony is a soul moment? Pretty sure the answer is yes! The songbird filled me with unexpected delight. Lightness filled my being as I watched it sing. Softly I poured praise on the petite one. Flattery, however, only got me so far. When I approached the little one, it flew away. But the joy stayed for hours.

According to Dr. Sanderson, it’s all right, too, to “Make up a wonderful, glorious soul moment you would like to have!”

Soul moments, as I understand it, are glimpses into our true nature. It’s a reminder that we are oh, so much more than our bodies, thoughts or emotions. “Every human being is a beloved child of God: A Soul on a human journey,” says Dr. Sanderson.

This planet is a place to learn that we are sparks of the Divine. Dr. Sanderson concedes, “Kinda tricky around here on Earth; So many choices (on) our journey towards positivity.”

A reassuring smile crosses her face. Dr. Sanderson references her lifelong friend and teacher, John-Roger. “J-R said, ‘If you would learn the secret of Soul Transcendence, look only for the good, for the Divine in people and things, and All the rest leave to God.’”

She encourages people to suspend disbelief and entertain the idea that, “All experiences are designed to bring us closer to God.”

Dr. Sanderson then invites us to take an inner journey. The lights are dimmed. Thunder – representative of the Earth realm– roars. Dr. Sanderson’s voice remains serene. She directs us to lift higher. Crystal lakes are evoked in my consciousness. Do I hear flutes? More music plays. During the guided meditation, she encourages us to, “Let that sound settle peacefully into you.”

I do. Enchanted, my eyes refuse to open, my hands rest on my legal pad. Dr. Sanderson tells us to return to the room. Time for cookies and tea…Life is back in session. Yet a stillness inside assures me a reply was given to the question, “What is Soul Transcendence?”

More answers may also arise on Tuesday, August 14th when popular teacher and soundscape artist Paul Kaye presents Introduction to Meditation & Sound: A Deeper Experience. Click here or visit PeaceLabyrinth.org/Events for details.

In the meantime, I wish you millions of sparkly Soul moments.

Heaven on Earth May Be in Your Backyard

The Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, is a country of contradictions. Dichotomies of gracious smiles quiver on a balance with steel grit. Gleaming towers scratch the sky. Shadows may fall; still ancient temples maintain their dignity. 

In Nagoya, taxis buzz like bees collecting honey. Business people scurry from trains to buses. Yet, smack dab in the center of the city is Atsuta Shrine. Bow, step through the winged torii gates and Nagoya noise disappears. A serene hush embraces the sacred grounds.

Atsuta Shrine is a spiritual oasis in the city. It’s one in countless shrines across Japan which offers refuge from the world. Or should I say refocus visitors on their spirits? (Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is another example. The shrine resides right next to Harajuku train station – aka the gateway into the mecca for the fashionista.)

Many of the magical entry points into nature and spirit in Japan are surrounded by eateries. Entrance into Nagoya’s Atsuta Shrine is free.  However, a meal at the renowned eel restaurant, Atsuta Horaiken will cost you a pretty yen. (But well worth the visit according to satisfied Yelp subscribers.)

A trip to Japan – for most of us – demands saving dollars. Good news: While you are plunking pennies into your piggy bank, you can still enjoy a spiritual oasis in the City of Angels.
111 Places in Los Angeles That You Must Not Miss states that Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens is the perfect place to “Find Your Self.” Indeed, the tiered garden and the labyrinth offer opportunities to bask in the tranquility which is ever present. If you like Asian accented gardens, you’ll love the bamboo and Japanese koi goldfish pond.

On Wednesday, June 27, 2018, there is an added bonus. A Heaven on Earth Summer Concert & Luncheon will take place at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens. Doors open at 12 noon. A summer feast will delight the eyes and stomach at 1 pm. Tours of the gorgeous gardens and historic home are available. Docents can offer tips for walking the Chartres Cathedral inspired labyrinth, too.

Delicious music will also dance through the halls of the mansion. Award-winning composer and keyboardist, Merrill Collins will play the piano. She’s a voting member of the Grammy Foundation whose works have been hailed as “Gifts of Service to the World.” Adding her heavenly talents to the concert is acclaimed violinist, Nicole Bush.  Nicole has played with prestigious orchestras such as the LA Philharmonic and is heard on Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand recordings.

Are you in LA on June 27th? Claim your Heaven on Earth with a visit to Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens. See the link below or click here.

http://www.peacelabyrinth.org/events/summerluncheon2018  

Wishing you heavenly experiences wherever Life may take you.

Plug Into an Oasis for the Soul

Let’s be real. We’ve all got addictions.  Don’t drink, swear, smoke or touch that white substance called sugar? Congratulations. How long can you go without checking your smart phone? Or binge watching your favorite Netflix show? Most of us need some form of comfort. On planet earth a lot of curve balls and challenges are thrown our way. (If this is not your experience, please send the address of your cave pronto!) 
How cool would it be though to upgrade our addictions to God?  (Higher power, Spirit, you know what I mean.) In the City of Angels, there is a place to plug into the oasis of your Soul. It’s called Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G.)  In the gardens, celestial melodies courtesy of the birds lift the gaze heavenward. Multiple water features sing soothing lullabies.  There’s the ancient labyrinth, too, which is sometimes referred to as a Moving Meditation into the Heart.
Evening events like An Introduction to Meditation: A Deeper Experience led by Dr. Paul Kaye are also a beautiful way to de-stress. Although Paul’s approach is lighthearted, his training is serious. From Lao Tzu to Rumi, from tai chi to yoga and countless other disciplines, Paul has thoroughly researched the subject of healing through meditation and sound. 
Due to numerous requests, PAL&G is now opening its doors, too, for a one day silent retreat entitled Unplug – Relax, Refresh, Recharge. Paul will lead the charge into stillness: “The purpose of the retreat is for you to completely relax, let go of worldly concerns and connect more deeply with who you are and with what breathes and sustains you.”
To ensure the clearest, truest connection, all participants are required to abide by PAL&G’s smoke-free, drug-free environment. If you’d like to attend, please e-mail paulkaye@msia.org with Silent Retreat in the subject line. To uphold the serenity fostered in the retreat, a maximum of 20 participants will be accepted. 

Love Is the Miracle Maker

“Miracles become the result of your Love.” ~John-Roger, DSS


A miracle is an unexpected but welcome gift. Course in Miracles friends say, “Forgiveness is the home of miracles.” It is indeed miraculous and surprising - for me anyway - when my heart floods with love for one I labeled “foe.”

Miracles are different though from magic. Grudges usually melt best when met with meditation. Work needs to be done before benefits surface. It’s kind of like a 401k. Hard-earned money is deposited into an account. In time, if invested correctly, lots of money appears!  

So, if I can go into meditation with the intent to touch the divine, angels kiss my forehead. Conversely if I continue on the war path of againstness …Well, you’ve probably heard the saying, “What you focus on you create.”

But you’ve also heard what you resist, persists. So when the war lords are drumming up strategies of revenge, I put my best Mother Mary/Shakti/Fairy Godmother game face on and have a little chat.

Wicked War Lords: (Shouting at the top of their lungs.) They are wrong, bad and we are going to withhold love from them forever and ever and ever. Here’s how we can get back at them…

Super Mother Mary/Shakti/ Fairy Godmother: (In a soft, soothing voice.) Er, excuse me for a moment. You sound like you’re really angry, hurt and in a whole lot of pain. It’s okay that you feel rage. You have a right to your feelings.

Wicked War Lords: (Stunned.) I do?

Super Mother Mary/Shakti/ Fairy Godmother: Mm-hmm. And I bet you thought when so-and-so did such-and-such, they did so because you were not (fill in the blank) enough or bad or not worthy of love.

Wicked War Lords: (Heads hanging and shuffling their feet) Yeah, kinda.

Super Mother Mary/Shakti/ Fairy Godmother: Well, their behavior is not about you. YOU are our precious one. We love YOU soooooooo much.

Wicked War Lords: Really?

Super Mother Mary/Shakti/ Fairy Godmother: Yes! So, would you be willing to chant Ani-Hu or Om or any one of the divine mantras designed to lift and heal?

Wicked War Lords: (Dewy-eyed) Yes.

The mystic Rumi had it right: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” And then, yes, miracles appear.


For more info about meditations, forgiveness, and little miracles, visit PeaceLabyrinth.org/Events. On many 2nd & 4th Tuesdays popular meditation instructor and author, Paul Kaye will holds meditation and sound journeys.

Behind the Scenes at PAL&G: Secrets to Happiness

Best labyrinth is a title bestowed upon Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G) by LA Weekly. According to Los Angeles Magazine, PAL&G is declared to be the Best of LA. Many visitors see the spot as a “spiritual oasis in the city.”

All the accolades are deserved. The labyrinth, the gardens and Italian renaissance villa are magnificent. So are many of the people who live and work at PAL&G.

89-year-old George Scott is an esteemed sous chef at PAL&G. His swoon-worthy salad dressings have stirred up Emmy award nominee Anne Marie Cummings to inquire after the ingredients.  His desserts have knocked many off the diet wagon. Vocal coach, Melinda Browne, says, “George always shows up before the workshops with amazing homemade pastries, revealing he is not only talented on stage but also in the kitchen.”

More than his culinary talents, George seems to have mastered joie de vivre. George’s daughter, Bambi says, “Dad was always giving and loving. He always had and has a smile.”

Scientists say that even faking a smile can reduce stress and increase serenity. Smiling at those around you can also apparently improve the energetic of an environment.

George’s easy smile sometimes makes this writer wonder if he’s strategizing mischief. His baby blues are brightest though when swing dancing or singing Sinatra tunes. “I feel a lot of spirit when I dance the big bands – like Glenn Miller,” says George.

Bambi remembers her father practicing East Coast Swing in the back of his health food store. (He was eating avocado toast before it was the fad!) Looks like he practiced a lot. Experienced dancers agree that George Smith’s lead is smoooooth.  He is an inspiration for those of us who could use more movement and mindful eating. (Just in case you need the reminder; diet and exercise are essential to well-being.)  

Besides swing dancing, George sites family and service as keys to happiness. He is a devoted father of, “3 unbelievable daughters. Each one of them is a Virgo and talented in their own way.”

While in attendance at songbird Bambi’s performance of Almost Like Being in Love, he picked up yet another key to happiness: singing! Kismet stepped in and he won admission into a Melinda Browne workshop. Daughter Wendy says, “When I was a kid, I always thought my dad could do anything he put his attention to. As an adult, I now know it’s true!”

The love George Scott has cultivated in his children extends to colleagues, too. James Burton (whose artistic touch with all things flowers and food is sublime) recalls George’s offer of “a healing song when I returned to the kitchen from my leave of absence.”

The melody of the song is a distinctively lilting George Scott ditty.  However, any light tune will apparently do the trick. “The important thing is the (affirmation of) I am,” says George.

I am grateful for PAL&G’s song-and-dance man. 

George Scott’s Healing Song
Every little cell in my body is healthy.
Every little cell in my body is well.
I’m so glad every little cell in my body is healthy and well.
I’m so glad every little cell in my body is healthy and well.

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The Way of Happiness

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Happiness is intangible. Like a Guerlain perfume or Chopin composition, the notes give the senses a lovely tickle. Aware that humans at their core like long soaks in feeling good, the United Nations designated March 20th the  International Day of Happiness. Even if there are realities like rent, we can dedicate one day to enjoyment!

So, on Tuesday, March 20th, popular meditation instructor, Paul Kaye and communications expert, Anna Sugai explored The Way of Happiness at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens. The conversations to living with a sincere smile stretched beyond the confines of the property. People from 169 countries tuned in on the web. From Afghanistan to Argentina to Australia, we citizens of the world are eager to live with more joie de vivre. (France was online, too!) 

Paul pointed out that we all have the tools for allowing in more sunny feelings. We have the power of choice. “[It’s] like sitting in a dark room, knowing where the light switch is.”

Ahhh, but some of us forget. Perhaps we drown for a time feeling responsible for the storm of scowls surrounding us.  (No one I know, of course.)

The Way of Happiness provided marvelous keys for keeping the light on and our spirits high. Including dancing to Pharrell Williams’ billion YouTube hit song, "Happy." To "Shake it Off" with music and movement – thank you Taylor Swift – are fantabulous antidotes to the blues.

Anna spoke of the magic of self-talk. She told of traveling solo and lonely. On a stroll through the Louvre, she committed to a cheerier perspective and chat with herself. A European romance ensued.  (Sorry, she didn’t elaborate.)

Serendipitously, Paul and Anna on their happiness research landed upon a Gandhi quote. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and do are in harmony.”

Whistling a happy tune while resisting British rule through non-violence might be a tad challenging for some of us. Yet, Mahatma Gandhi is an exquisite example of how circumstances do not define the bounds of happiness.

Tips and wise words about happiness also came from participants. “It is a rather crude analogy,” said one online visitor, “but I have always said it is possible to be joyous sitting on a manure pile and possible to be unhappy even with my greatest dreams realized.”

A divorcée hit with the doldrums shared about writing 3 daily gratitude items at bedtime for 3 months. Life shifted in a happy direction for her.

The Original Ted Talk – a stellar 90 second segment – from The Mary Tyler Moore Show was played. Watch it here. More than a "fake it until you make it" approach, Ted Baxter takes on a Nike “Just Do It” attitude.

To quote Muspoetographer, Lucy P. Dickinson, Happiness is, “Living in the rainbow of God’s Grace and blessings.”  

Or maybe when we fling our hearts wide open, we are on the way to happiness.

How To Meditate

With so much busyness and distraction available in the modern world, it’s important to take time for ourselves each day to focus on our spiritual nature. To drop the physical concerns of the day, and once again become aware that we are spiritual. That we are, through our Soul and our precious life breath, an extension of the Divine.

There are many meditation techniques available for tuning into your Spirit, or higher nature. Here at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens one of the primary ways that we learn to attune to and focus on God is through what we call Spiritual Exercises. Spiritual Exercises are an active technique of bypassing the mind and emotions by using a spiritual tone or vibration to connect to the energy that flows from God through all existence.

In Spiritual Exercises (S.E.’s) there is a focus on actively directing the attention inside, rather than attempting to passively quiet the mind. In our experience S.E.’s can assist a person to transcend illusions and limitations and move into the awareness of themselves as Soul: the pure, sacred, loving nature of who we truly are.

A recommended chant for spiritual exercises is the "HU," which is pronounced like the name Hugh or which can be said by pronouncing the sounds of the individual letters "H" and "U." The HU tone is an ancient name of God and is a wonderful way of attuning to the higher vibrations of Spirit.

The ANI-HU is a variation of the HU chant. Pronounced (AHN-EYE-HUE), the ANI-HU is also an invocation to God with an added dimension that brings in the quality of empathy and oneness with others. As you chant this tone, you may find the quality of empathy and connection with others increased.

We invite you to follow the instructions below and try doing Spiritual Exercises, and observe the results for yourself.

People who do Spiritual Exercises regularly often report experiencing a deeper peace and relaxation and a greater connection to the Spirit inside. You might try doing Spiritual Exercises daily for 10 or 15 minutes and see if this practice works for you.

Instructions for Spiritual Exercises

1.     Call yourself forward into the "Light" of the Holy Spirit, or a Higher Power, for the highest good, and ask for protection and guidance during your S.E.’s.
 

2.     Chant the HU (pronounced H-U or HUE) or the Ani-HU (pronounced AHN-EYE-HUE), which are sacred names of God. It’s preferable to do this inwardly (silently).
 

3.     While chanting, focus your attention in the “third eye” area, which is near the center of the head directly back from your forehead. It is in this place that the Soul has its seat and the Soul energy gathers.
 

4.     After you have chanted for about five minutes, stop and listen within. You are listening for the Sound Current, or audible life stream, which can be very subtle. You may hear it the first time you do this, or it may take years of practice. This is a very individual matter.
 

5.     If you find your mind wandering and you lose the focus of listening, you can focus the mind again by chanting.
 

6.     After about five minutes of listening, you can return to chanting again. The times are approximate, and the idea is to spend time in S.E.’s both chanting and listening.

For longer periods of S.E.’s, you can expand the time for chanting and listening to fifteen minutes each. For example, in an hour session you can chant for fifteen minutes, listen for fifteen minutes, and then repeat the chanting-and-listening cycle one more time.

All of the above are guidelines, so you can experiment with how you do S.E.’s, using what works for you at a particular time and not getting attached to a certain form. The focus is on doing your Spiritual Exercises with as much loving and devotion to the Spirit within as you can.

Again, we invite you to visit this peaceful place, and while you’re here to go inside in whatever way works for you, and tap into the riches within.

"Restoring peace inside of you allows you a few moments of quietness. Spirit can become present. There can be a great healing inside of you, and a re-attunement to the oneness which is the peace of Spirit."
John-Roger, PAL&G Founder, DSS
(From: Loving Each Day For Peacemakers, Choosing Peace Every Day)

The Sound of Heavenly Music - Rx for the Stressed

Paul Kaye, Meditation Instructor and Soundscape Artist.

Paul Kaye, Meditation Instructor and Soundscape Artist.

 

Hop into a candlelit bubble bath.  
Sooth tension-weary muscles with a massage.
Stroll on the beach.
Gaze up at a night sky sparkling with stars.

All of the above works wonders. And so does meditation. Imagine soaking in sounds of serenity from faraway lands. Visualize an expert guide leading you through the chambers of your heart. Feel yourself shimmering in Light.

This is not fantasy. Paul Kaye’s Sound Bath at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G) embraces methods for de-stressing. You may hear instruments from the Himalayas and Japan echoing through a historic mansion. Riding atop the waves of harmony is the gentle voice of Paul. A teacher of forty years, he guides participants into a deep-dive meditation.

The event is titled "Introduction to Meditation and Sound, A Deeper Experience." However, even long time students of meditation exit the event declaring:

“For the first time in 10 weeks, I felt no pain.”

 “It took me to places that were frankly ineffable.”

“Best meditative experience this decade.  Left with a great sense of serenity, and crystal clarity.”

Falling in love and meditation are similar. Both are highly personal and individual. Yet, we all agree it can be a fabulous experience. Dating for most is about finding "the right one." It takes time. So does discovering the method(s) of meditation that work best for you. Of course (and thank God!), miracles can happen and some immediately experience their soul sing joy. Yet, like all relationships and practices, improvement is always welcome, right?

 

Experience an Introduction to Meditation and Sound, A Deeper Experience evening at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens.

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Sole of the Labyrinth

By September 2018 Jack Favor will have clocked 500 miles on the labyrinth at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G).  Jack finds the labyrinth an invaluable tool for “refocusing.” As he strolls the 11 concentric circuits, “more important ideas come to the forefront.”

As a student in a Doctor of Spiritual Science course, Jack was encouraged to pay attention to his dreams. Pythagorean philosophies and prime numbers surfaced in his sleep. (Before landing in his present profession, Jack was literally a rocket scientist.)  The “labyrinth helps me clarify those ideas.”

Serendipitously, labyrinths are created using the principles of sacred geometry…one of Pythagoras’ pet projects. Shapes and forms which repeat in nature when incorporated into a labyrinth produce a sacred energetic. (Maybe that’s why a labyrinth is also referred to as a moving meditation.)

“MSIA (Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness) is all about providing tools for awareness,” says Jack. “Less important matters fade and more important matters come to the forefront [when walking the labyrinth.]”

Plus it’s a good way to stretch the legs and escape a desk job. But Jack differentiates a labyrinth walk from a stroll on the beach or jog around the block. At Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens “The inner landscape is reflected with the outer landscape.”

Jack maintains that areas surrounding the labyrinth reflect consciousness. He sees the reflecting pool as a symbol of the unconscious; the pergola crowned by Madame Butterfly, the kingdom of emotions. And the Asian accented gardens? A foray into fantasy/imagination and the physical world.  With all its ways of awakening awareness, Jack believes the labyrinth is reflective of the mental realm.

Inspired by Jack, I took a turn in the labyrinth. After saying a prayer at the entrance, I solemnly stepped and silently chanted HU (the ancient Sanskrit name for God.) Looking up, a fat chipmunk was furiously swishing his tail. He seemed intent on capturing a nut or some sort of morsel. I laughed. He reminded me of my tabby cat. The ice cream truck music decided just then to serenade me with It’s A Small World.  I stepped off the labyrinth feeling lighter. No brilliant formulas. But some say joy is synonymous with soul. 

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New Year's Resolution "Spiritual Spa Morning" - Enjoy Pics!

We were "packed with peeps" - enjoy the pics!

Over 200 beautiful people gathered January 6 to start the new year deepening their commitments, intentions, and devotion. We enjoyed a workshop, sacred labyrinth walk - followed by a lavish buffet brunch - making the day like a "spiritual spa."

Enjoy the slideshow images.  

Sneak Peek into 100 Ways to Health & Well-Being Workshop with Paul Kaye

Author, educator, and meditation expert, Paul Kaye, has created a workshop called 100 Ways to Health & Well-Being. I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul.

I found he not only walks his talk, he makes it dance with the enthusiasm he infuses into his projects. His research while co-authoring books such as Living the Spiritual Principles of Health and Well-Being, and What’s It Like Being You? with New York Times bestselling author, John-Roger, DSS, has given Paul abundant material for this workshop.

Some of Paul’s Health and Well-Being Tips

Best Way to Feel Good?

1.  MOVEMENT

When I questioned Paul about his favorite ways to feel good, he promptly responds, “Movement!”  He ducks into a closet. He returns brandishing a wooden sword à la Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid. He asks, “Have you ever seen a tai chi sword?” (Did you know there was such a thing? Neither did I.) 

He goes on to explain, “Everybody can make time for movement.” Paul puts the sword down. “Not hours, but 2 minutes here and there.” Demonstrating he says, “Like a plié!”

2.  SLEEP

“If I don’t get eight hours, my performance suffers mentally, physically, and emotionally. It shows in my behavior.”

3.  SPIRITUAL EXERCISES

Another key is spiritual exercises, which is an active form of meditation. (Paul facilitates a popular Introduction to Meditation and Sound evening.)

 

Favorite Health Foods?

Paul’s favorite health food? “Sprouted flax seeds.” Hmm. Intimidation creeps into my consciousness.

Do You Allow Any Cheat Days?

“Ice cream,” says Paul very matter-of-factly. “It’s important to keep the basic (inner child) happy and not be in deprivation.”

"Foods don’t work the same for every person"

While on the subject of food, I mention the superhero blueberry. Many call the cute purple berry a super food. Some studies state the "happy hormone" serotonin increases and inflammatory issues decrease by eating the fruit. “But (the consumption of) blueberries doesn’t work for everybody,” says Paul. “Some say it also causes joint problems.”

So in this vast arena of health, which expert has Paul’s attention? “Gary Taubes.”  Apparently the Harvard, Stanford and Columbia University educated writer “took the lid off fats, grains and sugars.”

What About Sugar?

How does he counsel someone who likes sugar? Paul doesn’t mince words: “Stay off refined sugar because it puts on weight. We have an obesity epidemic in this country." Hmm. I don’t know if I’ll be giving up Oreos soon. I have hope though.

What Can We Expect to Receive from the Workshop?

“Expect to go away with at least one key to bring greater health and well-being into your life.”


100 Ways to Health and Well-Being will take place Tuesday, January 23, 7:30pm PT. 

Finding Forgiveness & Love

 “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love is the answer. How many times have you heard that? It’s a truth, but getting to love and forgiveness can be a curvy road. Judgments, justified or not, are major culprits.

“There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” says Prince Hamlet. He was one soul-searching fellow. (Maybe that’s why Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies.) Wise words, yet he landed into ill fortune. He lacked tools.

In matters of the healing heart, techniques and classes can be of assistance. Techniques presented at Paul Kaye’s Introduction to Meditation and Sound, A Deeper Experience, held at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G), can offer such assistance. My experience is these techniques help me create peace of mind. Labyrinth walks (designed using sacred geometry) also help me unwind my disturbing beliefs.

As one who has led guided labyrinth tours for over four years, I often see smiles appear on visitors walking the labyrinth. People tell me of the comfort they experience here. Part of the healing may come from a sort of pampering that takes place at PAL&G. Not the champagne and mani-pedis sort, but by taking time out and opening ourselves to up to our inner core--it’s as if heaven bestows blessings and healing. An hour or two walking the labyrinth and gardens, or steeping in a meditative sound bath, are opportunities to put aside Facebook. It’s a time to remember how we are cherished and adored by higher beings. The experience lingers after the gates close behind us.

Poet, William Wordsworth wrote, “Trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”

It’s nice to know that during our short stint on planet earth there’s a place where we can re-member ourselves to that glory. 


The Journey of Dey Young’s Madame Butterfly Sculpture [with Video]

If you’ve walked the labyrinth here at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens in the last few months, you’ve been in the presence of "Madame Butterfly," a figurative sculpture that was recently donated by sculptor, Dey Young. This piece feels right at home in the gardens of the Guasti Villa (the former name of this mansion) whose architecture was inspired by Renaissance Italy and that once had a sculpture garden of its own.

Just as the marble in this mansion was imported from Italy, so was the stone for Madame Butterfly, which comes from Pietrasanta, which translates to sacred stone. It is Carrara Marble, the same marble that Michelangelo used when carving his most famous sculptures: the David & the Pietá.

Dey Young works within the line of sculptors who has sought the angel in the marble and carved to set it free.

The discovery of Madame Butterfly began in California when Dey created a maquette of the sculpture to practice her theme. She captured the female form in movement, resting between figuration and abstraction. A crescent moon, full hips and breasts, flowing draperies.

Next Dey traveled to Italy in search of the perfect block of statuary marble, the one from which Madame Butterfly would emerge. She worked with artisans for three months before returning to her studio in California where she carved and polished for another nine to complete the sculpture.

As we stand before Madame Butterfly, I picture what the initial block of marble might have looked like, 2500 pounds of solid stone, holding the angel within. It is no mistake that this process of carving marble has been used as a metaphor for spiritual awakening.

As we talk to Dey about her work, I am transported. I picture the confident touch of Dey’s hands and tools, working to free this butterfly from its chrysalis of stone.

I remember visiting Dey in her studio. Remember the rough blocks of different colored stone waiting for their turn to be carved. Some of them marked with crayon, hinting at the figure within. Heavy and peaceful, filled with potential.

I remember the peace that was present in the studio as Dey carved a figure in alabaster. With her loving attention on the stone, everything else faded into the background.

I think of Madame Butterfly’s journey. I think of her traveling from Italy to Dey’s studio in California, then to a gallery in New Mexico, and finally resting in the Gardens of Prana.

Dey shares about her journey as an artist, about the way that sculpture has been a teacher in her life. She tells us about her other teachers, John-Roger and John Morton and tears of gratitude come to her eyes.

As the sculpture has found its home, so has she.


We invite you to visit to see the sculpture for yourself. Click the button below to sign up for a tour today. In the meantime, keep seeking the angel in the stone. God bless you.


David Whitaker with Video by Lucia Doynel.

Celebrating the U.N. International Day of Peace

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What Does Peace Mean To You?

#PeaceDay #JoinTogether #PeaceLabyrinth

 

September 21 is the U.N. International Day of Peace. Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, together with the Institute for Individual and World Peace took part in celebrating and honoring this day with several events.

We started with a Peace Concert, listening to the exquisite, healing music of Merrill Collins, global peace song finalist. Her music swept us away with her beautiful, healing sounds. What a perfect way to help put our bodies, minds, emotions, and our spirit into peace.

We followed with an Acceptance and Peace Seminar. Many say the way to world peace is through individual peace. Using this principle, we came together to explore how to come to greater inner peace by simply accepting what is.

Lastly, we moved forward into celebration and action with a Peace Day Open House. 

We celebrated by sharing refreshments, music, taking fun "selfies," and with getting to know new people. We shared our love, togetherness, oneness, and our common purpose of wanting to create a better world internally and externally for ourselves, others, our planet.

We moved into action by placing our peace intentions and "blessings" at the Labyrinth, the Peace Pole, the Peace Tree. Many shared their photos on their social sites - spreading peace intentions into the world. 

At 12 noon we participated in the U.N. Global Minute of Peace/Moment of Silence. Paul Kaye, President of MSIA and Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, led these moments as we all circled around the labyrinth. He spoke a bit about what is peace and what we can do to create peace. 

Lastly, we took it inward again, to what many call our "Source" by attending Peace Sound Meditations led by Paul Kaye. Paul sounded chimes, singing bowls and meditative instruments, and played guided meditations by John-Roger. These meditations assist us to attune more deeply to where many believe it all begins, within. As someone said, "Peace begins with you."

Some ways to create peace

Paul Kaye mentioned some points for how to create peace. 

  • Peace is present. 
  • Peace is an inner process. 
  • Peace is the cessation of againstness.
  • Peace is a choice regardless of circumstances.

 

Listen to Paul's Global Minute of Peace Address

 

 

What does peace mean to you? 

 

#KeepPeaceAlive #PeaceEveryday #SpreadPeace

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